Getting Started in Radio Controlled Flying

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Its hard when trying to get into a new hobby, even more so with Radio controlled models as there is such a wide range of models/kits etc. I thought id give just a little bit of advice on what to buy and how to give your first efforts of flight a fighting chance!

I have been flying for fifteen years now, I started with simple free flight rubber powered planes, gave up for a few years then started again with Park flyers. I now have large  Scale Spitfires and Tiger moths that drop bombs!

I am now teaching family and friends how to fly.  I see them, and others buying inappropriate models from ebay and shops that do not fly and/or are not suitable.

Firstly you need to start with the basics, dont go getting a large scale spitfire, it needs knowledge to fly and skills you dont have yet! get a " Trainer".

 When you have gone out numerous times, flown then gone home with a complete plane its time to move on to more advanced models, or just enjoy puttering around the sky at your lesuire.

Whats a trainer?

  • Normally something of a fair size (anywhere around 40" will do) so it will fly in a fair sized field, and wont get blown around too much.
  • It can be made out of foam ( like the old burger boxs) EPP ( like a posh, sleaker polystyrene) or Balsa wood, or a combination of any of these.
  • It has to be a high winger, like a Cessna or Piper Cub, that way it wants to fly nice and level by itself anyway, all you have to do is give it guidance, rather than a spitfire doing 30 mph and needing constant thought and movement to control.
  • Petrol or electric?, up to you but I fly all mine electric, its quiet and you switch on and fly, no dragging a box with fuel/batterys/spares/props etc, and no hassle starting either, just plug in the battery and your almost ready!
  • Something like the models with a "V tail" are good (cant mention makes!) but they are about  40" span and you get the radio, battery, charger with it. They fly well and if you hit the ground hard they bounce and spares are cheap, Like wings. When you get bored of flying it and you can put it where you want it, not the other way around!, move on to the next type of model

What Next?

You need to get a "Three, or four channel Plane" i:e  up, down,  left,  right  and throttle!

They are about £100 in model shops. Make it the same type as before, cessna etc, but this one will have proper radio equipment -receiver, servos, speed controller, which can all be put in another models if you do kill yours. This type of plane is more respnsive and sophisticated and so needs more concentration, but I have had one of these in the clouds and put the handset on the floor for 15 mins and let it glide back down!

What if I have radio gear?

Through crashing lots of planes, I have lots of radio gear. I buy kits, which is basically just the plane, no engine or radio gear.

The plane can be made from any material as stated above. You build it following the instructions and then install your own radio.

I have used the radio gear from my second trainer to power a 35" spitfire, doing rolls and loops etc, and also a 51" tiger moth with bomb drop!

Tips for success.................................Must read!

The centre of gravty (C of G) is the point at which the plane, ready for flight balances level when supported by the correct point along the chord of the wing. this usually is one thrid from the of the leading edge (front ) of the wing. this is worked out by the designer.  All it means is that when the plane is in flight , if it was tail heavy it would wallow around he sky and be very twitchy to contol inputs, which by the time you  noticed what was happening it would hit the floor. If nose heavy it would try to dive all the time and fly too fast. If the C of G is correct the plane without control input will happily glide at a very shallow angle.

Cheap Planes-

If you have got a plane and all you have to do was add the batterys, all the hard work has been done for you and it should be ballanced properly (the center of gravity) pick a calm day, and go for it.

"Three or four Channel " Plane-

  • If you built from a kit you have more choice where to place the radio gear, in the plane, which will affect the C of G. make sure its correct before you go out!
  • Fly in calm weather
  • Check the C of g
  • If hand launching, give the plane a level light throw or toss, because it needs to be at flying speed to stay in the air, and it wont be if its just come out of your hand!, I aim for the top of a tree in the distance and imagine im really pushing ithe plane to it, its a long throw, not a quick lob!
  • If it crashes, find out why? were the wings level, was something loose? did you throw it straight into the floor? was it heading towards the floor so you thought more power would make it pull out of the dive, and it hit the floor at 300 mph? - yep done all those!
  • Keep flying and learning and you will be rewarded with being able to fly bigger and more scale like planes. When my wife saw me fly my Spitfire for the first time, she didnt think it was me flying it!!! On a warm summer evening as its getting dark, doing a low fly past and a victory roll was worth all the frustrations of learning.
  •  Its a skill to learn, but worth it.

E-mail me if you have any questions, or ideas, I had lots of help over the years from all sorts of people

Good luck and mind  those trees - yep done that too!!!!!!!!

Muddy Funkster






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